Gaming….what does that mean when your kids are online and playing? Are they on a site by themselves or are they connected with friends they know in real life or perhaps someone they don’t know at all.
Have you ever checked out the games your children are playing online? Do you consider online gaming a form or social media? What username and passwords or images have your children signed up with. Have you ever sat with your children and watched how they play or who they are connected to online? Do you know their logins and passwords?
Every year, in fact almost daily the world of gaming gets more intense, more complicated and opens up more opportunities for our children to connect to others they have never met in real life. Even if they are just home playing the wii…did you know that they can connect to others right from your living room tv. Are you even aware that some online games allow them to play with others, enter private chatrooms and start to build online friendship and trust with someone you’ve never met who may not be anyone even in your community or a child them self. We can actually be our child’s worst enemy and help put them into a vulnerable situation by encouraging them and giving them permission to go online and play their games every day once they have completed their homework. Predators start to see the pattern, start to build the trust and our unknowing children think they are their online game friend start to give them tips and information that you may not want shared. Unfortunately predators know this, they know the questions to ask and they know how to build the trust with our children to get what they want.
As a parent what can you do to help protect and keep your children safe online?
- Talk to your children, know what games they are playing, know their passwords, and user names, know their what their profile image is
- Have passwords that not easy to guess and do not give away any personal information
- Set limits, have times and guidelines that are agree upon by both you and your child
- Have them show you how to play and what they are doing, start a conversation with them about the world of gaming
- Discuss safety issues age appropriate with your child
- Set up filters and privacy settings for your child and internet filters, be aware of the ratings of the games your child is playing
- Let your child know that they can ALWAYS come to you if they see anything or hear anything that makes them feel uncomfortable
- Keep your computer in an open space in your home, discourage your child from playing in their room
- Don’t let your children download any games or programs without your permission
Communicate with your children, ask questions and let them show you. The world of digital media is new to many of us, overwhelming and time consuming but as parents it is something we need to keep up with. We talk to our children about ‘stranger danger’ now it’s time to incorporate into that conversation online stranger danger.
Stacy Maynard & Kerry Hills are moms with successful social media businesses. We have a passion for helping children understand how to use social media safely. We have joined together to implement into classrooms and the community our Socially Safe, Socially Fun, Social Media programs.
We are Moms of kids between the ages of 8 to 15, so we understand the need to help our kids stay safe and create a positive digital footprint. Social Media is not going away and we are passionate about teaching our kids how to use it, have fun and stay Socially Safe.